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My kids play so differently. My son Joel loves to zone out into his own world of makebelieve with bits of paper, receipts, calculators or knicknacks. He pretends he’s everything from a banker to a subway driver. I love watching him get lost in those worlds.
My daughter Mieka on the other hand is more into sensory play. She loves playing in the sink with bubbles. I fill the sink and give her a laddle, collander and some containers, and she’ll play happily while I make dinner. She’ll spend hours in the sandbox, or playing with playdough, and loves playing with her food!
Understanding how my kids play is helpful when it comes to putting together activities for them. I loved the explanation of Sensory Play for preschoolers over at www.notjustcute.com. It makes sense that our children are wired to receive sensory information from day one. Which explains why they dive in with their hands to explore new things. Amanda from www.notjustcute.com adds that by talking with them about what they are observing and sensing, we give them new language tools to connect with these more familiar sensory tools, building language as well as supporting cognitive concepts specific to the experience.
I took a look on Pinterest and came up with so many great ideas for sensory play. These will definitely be tried out at my house very soon!
How fun is this spaghetti sensory play WITH PAINT!
Source: Spaghetti Sensory Play
I know Mieka would love this idea! A bin full of shaving cream!
How about a squishy bag? This is easy to do with some hair gel (from the dollar store), glitter and food colouring. Mix them all into a ziplock bag and let your child make letters and numbers on the bag. Hold it up against a window for a whole new tactile effect!
(Source: Play at Home Mom)
Some more ideas? A bin full of popcorn kernels, dried beans or noodles. One full of feathers or pom poms. A bucket full of plastic letters. Tools like tweezers, scoops, small cars, and sponges will also help with eye-hand coordination. How about a basket full of laundry (the other day Mieka rolled in it pretending she was covered in mud). The possibilities are endless!
Sensory play is so important in a child’s brain development. Think of it as brain food. Just say for example your child is playing in that tub of spaghetti, she is developing her sense of touch, which is the foundation for learning other skills, like being able to identify objects by touch, and using fine-motor skills. Sensory play also helps children develop new concepts; is it smooth or rough, wet or dry, bumpy or crunchy? Some questions you might ask while your child is engaged in sensory play: what does it feel like, smell like, look like. What can you do with it, how can you move it, where can you put it.
I think I’m going to take a look around the house and in the cupboards for things that are bumpy, crunchy, scratchy, soft and smooth and let the kids get dirty ! Will you join me? Let’s let our kids get right into it and messy!